Find room for middle ground in climate debate
Based on the Jan. 29 issue of the Clackamas Review/Oregon City News, a person might not realize there is an active, fruitful middle to the climate discussion.
The article headlined "Activists challenge 50-acre timber sale in Clackamas County" seemed to erroneously define environmentalists, climate activists and the Clackamas Climate Action Coalition (even members not at the meeting) as extremists opposed to logging and it used just one voice of John Talberth of the Center for Sustainable Economy to define everyone in the opposition. Meanwhile this article presented the county as unlistening. A letter headlined "Climate change dollars better spent on schools, roads," in calling concern about climate a "hoax," seemed to define the opposition to climate legislation in extreme terms as well. This focus on the extremes might make for exciting, "head shaking" articles but, if it leaves readers disgusted or angry, it does little to move us toward solutions.
But the big, overlooked middle of reasonableness, thoughtful concern, ideas and solutions holds a lot of people. When I read a sampling of the letters to the Oregon Legislature on climate legislation, I noticed a lot of explanatory letters on both sides; some were fearful, but most weren't angry. Many people on the left who care about climate do care about how we all come through this and do appreciate wood products and the sequestering and cycling of forests. Many people on the right care about personal responsibility for climate. My Republican neighbor stopped me in the street to rave about his new electric car; before long, his wife had one too. The county is actually working to find solutions to benefit everyone — by involving citizens, by increasing forest age before harvest and stream buffers, and by increasing the number of local jobs in a new value-added timber products industry.
This past week my friend and I, on different sides of the climate debate, had a friendly conversation about the matter of climate. We found a lot we agreed on: this is a test of our value structure; everyone should know their personal carbon-producing footprint; we should influence those who abuse what is reasonable; legislative initiatives should make quantitative improvements and pay off; energy-efficient homes make sense; older, inefficient, high carbon-producing vehicles should be twilighted; graduated incentives for all electric and (less for) hybrids make sense; lower-income families (including retirees) should not be hurt disproportionately; we need to come together.
We need more bridges of understanding between the two sides so we can find common ground, understanding and useful actions. We need less fascination with loose cannons of divisiveness. We can find a way forward together.
Elizabeth Graser-Lindsey is a resident of Beavercreek.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.